Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

Manufacturers have come out with a variety of organic sunscreens, with zinc oxide sunscreen being one of the most popular, because of the recent controversy over certain sunscreen ingredients that have the potential to be toxic to humans. Consumers have demanded sunscreen products using ingredients that are truly safe for use not only on adults, but children and babies as well.

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Zinc Oxide has a long history of use as a skin protector and has been used in a wide range of dermatological and cosmetic preparations. In addition to its protecting, soothing, healing and antimicrobial properties, zinc oxide effectively scatters and absorbs UV radiation to provide broadband UV protection. However Zinc Oxide is commonly combined with chemical UV filters to obtain an optimum level of protection, although it may be advertised as a zinc oxide sunscreen.

This marketing angle is used because many consumers prefer zinc oxide containing sunscreen over all the other traditional sunscreens and formulas as it is seen as the most healthy option of them all. Zinc oxide has been approved by the FDA, (Food and Drug Administration) for use on babies and young children, implying it is safe and will not pose as a health hazard later on down the line.

As a physical sunblock, zinc oxide sunscreen is extremely effective in blocking both UVA and UVB rays, it is very potent in protecting the skin from both sun damage and the chance of developing skin cancer. Because it is not absorbed into the skin, it is considered non-irritating and non-allergenic. In the table below you can see the range of UVA and UVB light rays that zinc oxide sunscreens typically provide protection from.

light transmission curveTypical UV protection provided by ZnO sunscreen

Studies have shown that certain sunscreens contain ingredients that over time are able to become absorbed into the skin, thus releasing it into the bloodstream, where it can wreak havoc on the organs and the immune system. Luckily, zinc oxide sunscreen does not fall under this category.

In the past zinc oxide, along with titanium dioxide, as the physical sunscreens, had the disadvantage of leaving an unsightly white and chalky residue on the skin. However, recent technology has been able to create what is known as micronized particles of zinc oxide. This means that the actual size of the zinc oxide particles can be reduced to a size that can't be seen by the naked eye, which means no more white, chalky appearance, but still has the ability to effectively guard against harmful ultraviolet rays.

Even though zinc oxide has been around for many years and has been present in a number of sunscreen products, it has only been in the past few years that researchers have recognized the potential zinc oxide has to properly protect the public against the sun's UV rays, while remaining a product that is considered all natural. This makes its appeal to the public that much more profound.

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